• November 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 10

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Justice System Involvement and Out-of-Home Care Placement

Youth who have been placed in out-of-home care are more likely to become involved with the justice system than their peers who have not been placed into care. A recent article published in the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research assessed a sample of 794 youth in an urban Pennsylvania county who had been placed in out-of-home care to determine if they could be categorized based on their justice system involvement and if there were any predictors of their involvement.

The study authors identified five groups of youth based on their justice system involvement:

  • No/low-involved (70.7 percent)
  • Early-age involvement (5.9 percent), which included youth whose involvement peaked around ages 15 or 16 and then decreased
  • Late adolescent/adult involvement (7.9 percent), which included youth whose involvement began around ages 16 or 17 and peaked around 20 or 21
  • Short-term/highly involved (7.8 percent), which included youth who generally had low involvement but had a sharp increase over a brief period between ages 16 and 18
  • Chronically involved (7.7 percent), which included youth who had early involvement that persisted into adulthood

Except for the no/low-involved group, every other group had more males than females, especially the chronically involved group (93.4 percent male). African-American youth were more likely than Caucasian youth to be in the chronically involved (five times more likely) and short-term/highly involved (three times more likely) groups.

The grouping with which youth were identified also was affected by time in care and type of care. Youth in the no/low-involved group had the highest percentage of total time in foster homes (as opposed to congregate care) and the highest percentage of having been in only one placement type (foster home, group home, or regular residential). Additionally, having ever been in congregate care was a significant predictor for being in the chronically involved group.

"Developmental Trajectories and Predictors of Juvenile Detention, Placement, and Jail Among Youth With Out-of-Home Child Welfare Placement," by Karen Kolivoski, Jeffrey Shook, Sara Goodkind, and Kevin Kim, Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 5(2), doi: 10.1086/676520, is available here:

http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/676520

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